After struggling to come up with the exact cliché that uses the words “ridiculous” and “sublime,” I’m going to approach this from a different angle. Accordingly, you will have to look a long time to come up a more drastic turnaround than what you’ll find at the Lyric Theatre in Brownwood next month.
First, on Tuesday, the Lyric will offer a presentation of the Christmas portion of Handel’s “Messiah.” The Brown County Festival Chorus and Orchestra conducted by Dr. Christopher B. Rosborough of Howard Payne University will perform with voices and instrumentalists numbering almost 75. This “Messiah” concert has become something of a tradition for the Lyric, and for many area residents it’s become a “can’t miss” event that helps to define the spirit of their Christmas season.
Nothing says “holiday tradition” like Handel’s iconic masterpiece, and the music composed at break-neck pace over one month in 1741 always sounds like a glorious new work whenever its eternal message is performed.
All seats are reserved, so don’t delay making plans.
OK, so Handel’s “Messiah” serves as the “sublime” part of the cliché. My copy of Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary includes the word “comical” as one of the definitions of “ridiculous,” so that applies to what comes next at the Lyric.
A week from tonight, on Dec. 7, the Christmas variety show “Yee Haw Holiday” will open. Eight shows are planned for that weekend and the following weekend.
It’s a program featuring a series of different comedy sketches, musical selections, and related holiday performances all designed to put a Christmas song in your heart and a smile on your face. The “Yee Haw” part suggests that the theme will trend toward things that are country and corny, so it all comes home for the Christmas season.
I usually drop in on a rehearsal before previewing Lyric shows, but the Thanksgiving holidays have prevented me from seeing a run-through before I needed to finish this column. However, bits and pieces of the performance have been shared, and this promises to be an evening (or a matinee) well worth your time.
And did I say comedy? Dr. Nancy Jo Humfeld, who is directing this show, told me one of the actors — a seasoned veteran of the Lyric stage who is no stranger to being in front of an audience — broke into laughter himself during a preliminary reading.
That brings me to the new year. The Lyric’s 2019 slate of performances was announced earlier this month, and it’s a dandy. A few of those shows will be promoted during “Yee Haw Holiday,” just in case the audience hasn’t checked the Lyric’s website yet.
Next year’s shows will include “9 to 5,” “Gilligan’s Island,” “The Odd Couple,” and more.
It’s another ambitious line-up planned for the coming year, but it can happen only if several things occur. The first, of course, is if audiences support community theater by attending. Even so, ticket prices cover only a fraction of the cost of staging a show and maintaining the facilities. Additional resources must come from patrons who donate dollars beyond the cost of tickets, purchase advertisements in programs, plus other supporters who appreciate the importance of the arts in rural communities.
Another vital component is the willingness of performers and technicians to volunteer their time, talents, and energy to each show.
The Lyric needs everyone’s support, and that can start by attending these December events.
Gene Deason is editor emeritus of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Fridays. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.